Your resume is your primary marketing tool for any job search. It’s what introduces you and establishes your credentials. It is also the main pathway from a job post to an interview. You don’t want your resume to cost you a job you want because you made one of these rookie resume mistakes. As you review your resume, watch for these 10 resume mistakes.
Resume Mistakes: 10 Errors Employers Will Not Overlook
Recruiters and hiring managers are very busy and have little time to devote to studying each resume that crosses their desk. In fact, they often look for reasons to discard a portion of the resumes they receive. Doing this helps narrow the applicant pool. While this process comes at the risk of losing a few good applicants, most employers find it is, ultimately, worth the sacrifice. Of course, you don’t want that trashed resume to be yours. The best way to avoid this problem is to remain aware of these common resume mistakes and check your own applications vigilantly for errors or an employer will hate your resume even before they open it.
Let’s start with the basics. Before you even think about searching your resume for mistakes, make sure you are not committing the following job search faux pas that may cause potential employers to not even open your message:
Employers May Delete Your Unopened Message for These Resume Mistakes
1. An unprofessional email address
When your application pops up in the inbox of a potential employer or in the applicant tracking system (ATS), it is important that they see a professional-looking email address. Hotmama12 will not cut it. A combination of your first and last name with a recognized email provider such as @gmail is your best option. Do not use numbers, dates, or other descriptors—as much as possible. Naturally, if your name is John, you will need to get a little creative to develop a unique email address. If this is your situation, try and keep it simple, and don’t use your birthday numbers for security and privacy reasons.
2. Inappropriate file names
Second to your email, the quickest way to lose a hiring manager’s attention is with the file name of your resume document. Your job search may generate a lot of computer files between saving the job ads and customizing your resumes and cover letters. However, it is important to use a different file name when applying for jobs than the one you use to keep your personal computer files organized.
Potential employers are kind of like potential suitors, it is important to make each one feel like they are the only one. For example, naming your resume “Sally Baines Writer Jobs Resume 2019” implies you not only have applied to many other jobs this year, but that you may be looking at other kinds of jobs too. Conversely, if you name your resume “resume.doc,” not only are you advertising that this is an entirely generic resume, you make it hard for your document to stand out.
Your resume should be titled, “Firstname Lastname Resume.” If you want to make things really easy for hiring managers, include the job title or number you are applying for, too.
3. Long introductory email
The email you send with your resume attached is a big determinant of whether or not a potential employer opens your attached resume. Unfortunately, the rules are less cut and dried in this instance. Some advocate an email as cover letter approach while others will say it’s better to attach a cover letter with your resume. In either case, it’s important to be brief and to the point. An email will be slightly less formal than a letter, but you still have to be articulate and cover the main points you want to get across while using less space to do it.
4. Not following application instructions
One of the biggest resume mistakes you can make and one that can cause your immediate disqualification as a candidate is not following application instructions. If the instructions request you make the email subject title something specific, then do so. If you don’t want to follow the instructions provided, save yourself some time and do not apply.
There are some instances where you may decide not to apply because of the application instructions. There are definitely instances where the instructions may give you pause. For example, if they are requesting references with your initial application. This may involve notifications and getting permissions before you even know if they are interested. In a situation like this, consider the job and the company. Are they worth the extra work for you? If not, move on instead of applying. If so, follow the instructions as asked.
Resume Mistakes That Cause Employers to Delete Your Message
Now that you examined the aspects of an application that a potential employer will hate before they even open your resume, let’s look at what resume mistakes will take you out of the running after they open the document.
5. Too much fluff and stuff
For the most part, potential employers hate things like emojis, bitmojis, photos, and graphics on your resume because they are unprofessional and not relevant to the job at hand. In addition, ATS software systems find many graphics and images difficult to read. Your resume may be disqualified because the computer software finds it too challenging to examine. If you do include a graph that illustrates your accomplishments, be sure to include that data in your text, too, so the ATS can read it. Otherwise, you might not be considered for the position.
However, it is important to know your industry and the position you are applying for. Sometimes creativity on your resume is appropriate, especially in the creative professions. In addition, if you have occasion to give out your printed resume by hand (say at a job fair), you can sometimes create a more visually attractive resume to help you stand out in a pile.
6. Boring and generic
Being boring and generic may actually guarantee employers overlook you. Imagine what it must be like to read resume after resume for hours on end. It’s important to take a few minutes with your resume to add a little style. There are two ways to make your resume stand out—format and language.
To stand out using formatting, use simple tricks and avoid complicated graphics. Adding horizontal bars to delineate sections, using complementary fonts to highlight important points, and adding a little splash of industry-appropriate color here and there doesn’t hurt either. Just don’t overdo it!
One of the easiest resume mistakes to make is to use tired clichés and static language. It’s just like what your mom probably said about swearing—you’re not attempting to find the right words. Always lead a sentence with an action verb like directed, executed, or spearheaded. If you’re describing an accomplishment, make sure the verb is outcome-oriented such as reduced, achieved, improved, and so on. Also, it’s much better to describe yourself in the context of what you have accomplished, rather than just stating it as a general fact. For instance, do not describe yourself as a “problem solver.” Instead, illustrate your problem-solving skills through examples.
It’s also important to make sure your resume is keyword rich. Employers and ATS software will scan your resume for the keywords they use in the job listing as a quick and easy way to see if you have the knowledge, skills, and experience that they are looking for in a candidate. Make sure the keywords you use are targeted and specific to each employer’s needs. The more keyword-rich your resume is, the better your chances of landing that interview.
7. A functional format
Most employers and recruiters dislike the functional resume format, which just lists a jobseeker’s skills and accomplishments. Sometimes people suggest the functional format if you are transitioning careers or just starting out, as it is designed to gloss over your lack of relevant job history. Unfortunately, recruiters and hiring managers know this. This format also makes it hard for them to determine when and where you got the experience you listed, which is their primary concern.
As an alternative, you might consider using a hybrid resume format. A hybrid format may begin by listing and describing your transferable skills and accomplishments. However, the traditional reverse-chronological listing of your professional experience follows.
8. Too long and too much text presented too densely
You probably know from experience how looking at a crowded page of dense text makes you feel. In a word, it makes you feel tired. Hiring managers and recruiters are no different. When faced with long blocks of text, many readers will increase their tendency to skim, and, if they are not quickly intrigued, they will move on.
So, in addition to using formatting and language to catch the eye and the interest of potential employers, it’s also important to provide variety and white space on the page. Paragraphs should be no more than 3-4 lines long. When you get into 5-6 lines for a paragraph, it can turn the reader off and cause them to skip over that area. Break longer paragraphs into two short paragraphs or use a combination of a short paragraph and 2-3 bullet points with career achievements underneath.
Avoid long lists of bullet points and make sure there is enough space between items to indicate separations. These techniques help to move a reader’s eyes to the different sections of your resume. It also provides areas that allow their eyes can rest.
Regarding length, most resumes should not be longer than two pages (no matter how much experience you have). Remember your resume is a marketing document, not an exhaustive list of everything you have ever done. Keeping it short will also force you to focus on what is most important and how to present that information clearly and concisely.
9. Grammatical errors and typos
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again. Probably the quickest way to guarantee your resume lands in the trash is by not proofreading your document for spelling and grammatical errors. Today’s grammar and spelling checks are a big help in avoiding these resume mistakes, however, they are not infallible and they don’t catch everything. For example, when you spell a word right, but it’s just the wrong word. A good way to avoid this problem is to have multiple friends and coworkers check over your document just to make sure.
10. Irrelevant information
Sometimes we have great work experience that we want to keep listing on our resume even though it’s getting old or is not pertinent to our current position. If you did some ground-breaking work 20 years ago or were really good at something you don’t do anymore, your potential employers really don’t care. You may have invented the computer, but if you did it more than 15 years ago, those skills are obsolete. Potential employers also do not usually care that you like to scuba dive and walk in the rain.
Keep the information on your resume relevant to the positions you are applying for. Make sure to use appropriate keywords and emphasize the skills and experience each job ad is asking for.
If you follow these 10 simple rules for avoiding some of the worst resume mistakes, then you will have a much greater chance of landing that coveted interview. Still confused? Increase your chances of securing the interest of potential employers by having a resume review or a new resume professionally written. Check out our Career Services page for more details on the services we provide.
Canva Photo Credit: AndreyPopov
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